- Fox News -
A south Texas municipal judge was arrested Thursday and accused of using traffic fines paid by those who appeared before him to pay his personal credit card.
La Joya Municipal Court Judge Joe Henry Garza, 55, was arraigned and pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon on the third-degree felony charge of theft by a public servant. He was in the process of being released on $10,000 bond later Thursday.
"We believe the gentleman is not guilty," said Richard Alamia, Garza's attorney. "He's not the receiver of the money that comes into the municipality."
An internal city audit earlier this year found discrepancies in fines collected by Garza's court, and the case was turned over to the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, said La Joya city administrator Mike Alaniz.
"I have the utmost respect for Judge Garza," Alaniz said. "It's just unfortunate this was happening."